Monday, July 24, 2006

The Worst Generation

I had a moment of moral clarity today and it was not pretty. I thought back to a defining time in my young life when I was attending a party on a patio in 6th grade. I looked around at my classmates and thought to myself, "We're going to be in real trouble when this group takes over." It wasn't that we were young and our parents were old. They just seemed like a different species. They were serious to the point of being morose and I wasn't wowed by their sense of humor. They talked about the Great Depression and the Great War and none of it sounded that great. They played bridge, drank way too much, and made puns. Frankly, I didn't get it. It wasn't till years later when I saw a Woody Allen movie that I even realized adults could be funny. But I knew they could be trusted to run the world. They were responsible like I never even thought of being. I knew at a young age that my group of wise-ass cut-ups had no business running anything. We could barely decorate a prom. It wouldn't matter what came our way - we were going to screw it up and then some. Everything was given to us so nothing was taken seriously. It was like we were the designated generation to have fun. Our systems were calibrated for it. While other generations plowed fields and built roadways, we hit the beach, got stoned, and rocked out. For many years it was a formula with no downside. Sure, some young lives were snuffed out by the excesses of drugs, but in general we got in a couple of the best decades ever experienced on this planet, before being forced by cruel circumstance into growing up. And that's when the trouble started. That's when the real-life grown-ups began dying off and the fake little fun-loving party boys and girls began playing pretend-adult. It was our turn to run the world.
Do you realize how immature this Clinton versus Bush argument sounds? We sound like a bunch of spoiled brats in the back of a station wagon, bickering. "Clinton sucks." "No, Bush sucks."
Meanwhile the truth is, WE suck. This generation sucks. You were loads of fun to party with but now that I've seen us in action, it's starting to be a horrible feeling. We go right on sniping at each other while the station wagon is heading off a cliff. We've taken the spoils that our parents sweated to give us, turned America into the richest most materialistic orgy in human history and now we're spending the money our children and grandchildren need for themselves. It's really been a shabby performance up till now, and I don't see any hope of a reversal. Clinton, with his sensory overload hound-dog routine splattering his sperm over the countryside.... Have a little class, for Christ sake. Hire hookers like JFK or bang starlets like Marilyn Monroe. But to go around humping everything you can get your immature, selfish, fun-loving hands on? That's so typical of my people. Then along comes George who prepared for the presidency by being a coke-sniffing, partying drunken fool. The only calling he heard was "Last Call" and the only moral high ground he was on was a barstool. The only noteworthy thing he ever accomplished on his own was to become the most immature 60-year-old man in human history. We've got a President whose #1 agenda is to ride his bicycle. Meanwhile, Clinton turned in some numbers that we'd die for now, but his example as the Human Penis turned off so many people, that it gave a bona fide moron a shot at driving the station wagon. Well, guess what happened? Everything got all screwed up. I knew it would be bad. I didn't know it would be this bad. I didn't know we'd be the Worst Generation - that our actions could cause the greatest country in history to collapse. That's one reason why our parents had that serious side. They saw it. They new what we were capable of down the road. You don't think poor George Sr. - the First President Bush - and Barbara don't say a silent prayer each and everytime their head hits the pillow: "Dear Lord, Please don't let the boy mess up again." Most of our parents are gone now. There's no one to take responsibility. We're in charge and America is slipping to her knees like a fat intern in the Oval Office.


At 11:36 PM, Blogger darrelplant said...

Previous generations had exactly the same problems with their leaders. Screwing around? Well, there's Ben Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, FDR, and others, and that's just founding fathers and presidents of the USA. Untrustworthy? Dim bulbs? It's hard to think of dimmer than W., but there's no shortage of evidence for scandal, untrustworthiness, and flat-out stupidity in previous generations. Don't forget which generation got the US into the Vietnam War that the young Bush, Cheney, and their ilk so deftly dodged. Carter (b.1924) and Brzezinsky (b. 1928) were the ones who got the ball rolling for US involvement with the mujahadeen in Afghanistan -- you know how well that's spun out over the past three decades.

Take another listen to the Nixon tapes and listen to the triviality, pettiness, and paranoia there before you think your generation is any different than the one before it or any of the ones before that. Re-read some Shaekspeare for a little of how the Elizabethans viewed their royalty. Thrill to the gravitas of the English ruling class seen through the lens of Wodehouse's Bertie Wooster stories.

People is people.

At 11:53 PM, Blogger Bill McDonald said...

Has any generation ever put America into this much debt or is this the worst?
I'm pretty sure when someone says the Greatest Generation nobody will get confused and think they might be talking about us.

At 5:56 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"I don't see any hope of a reversal."

It will be as natural as a routine flood.

The riches you may see are illusory. The dollar value placed on homes is way out of whack with income. This is a disequilibrium that is self-correcting, even if it may seem to lag a bit. Affordable housing, for the next generation, is watching gleefully as the price levels go into a free fall. So much for relying on a home, or rather the resale of a home, as old age security.

All those folks who have cash stashed into stocks, i.e., relying not on the dividends but the resale to a greater fool, will also find that just like any video poker player that the credits can go down too, with a far greater number of losers than winners. So much for this scheme for making old age a happy time to kick back.

The simple truth is that the next generation will, via the legislative process, discover the absolute absurdity of taxing themselves to cover the cost of preserving higher lifestyles of the old folks that had forsaken them in their youth.

I had argued in my challenge to the 2003 PERS bonding that when I become all gray that I do not wish to be caught up in the blowback.

The collapse is not all bad, just all bad for gray folks sitting in front of their collective video poker machines. Some folks in Germany wanted to favor the new generation by significantly lowering the voting age, as if that would solve the generational divide.


At 7:23 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This will thrill you no doubt, but this has been a theme that Rush Limbaugh has been hitting on for at least 15 years.

At 8:03 AM, Blogger Henry said...

There is a lot of truth in what you say. We had all the advantages and just look what use we have made of them. We even violated our own early ideals in favour of rampant materialism. I speak in general here, of course. Let each individual evaluate himself or herself in this regard. Now we sit on our hands allowing the worst of us to wield power, our democracy to be corrupted by money, and our planet to be irreparably damaged. There is no doubt: we are the "worst generation."

At 8:05 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Our debt as a percentage of GDP is not alarming in the least. I think its quaint how you idolize the generation that dropped nuclear bombs on two cities, lost more men to war than any generation before it or since, was complacent about racism and sexism in our country, and allowed Nazis and Communists to rise to power and almost take over the World. Everything looks better in hindsight, doesn't it? Maybe this generation will as well.

At 8:53 AM, Blogger Bill McDonald said...

This generation will definitely look better in hindsight.
It's getting us there that's going to be the tricky part. I'm aware that the "things are going to hell" theme is not new, so I'm not offended by the Rush Limbaugh comparison. In fact Rush is great example of this generation: Anyone who takes so many drugs that he almost loses his hearing has all the reckless sensory stuff of some of my musician friends who crashed along the way.
As far as the debt as a percentahe of GDP, check into unfunded financial exposures - the amounts we're scheduled to pay out soon that we have not funded. I saw one number that was like 36 trillion. Not only haven't we addressed this, we don't even know about it. Instead we point to revenue coming in ahead of White House projections as a sign things are going well. We're like President Bush - there's a lack of curiosity about the facts, because that stuff is a drag abd we'd rather have fun.

At 9:29 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Civilizations die from suicide, not by murder." --Arnold J. Toynbee

At 10:53 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

As a GenXer I heartily thank the Boomers--for nothing.

The "Me" Generation-Boomers

And, yes, even AIDS can be laid squarely at the feet of Boomers. The combination of "Me," "free love," Disco, and copious amounts of drugs led to the spread of the disease more than anything else.

The newest Boomer thing? Screw the kids: we need lots of Social Security because we never got around to saving for retirement.

Thanks, guys.

At 12:57 PM, Anonymous gen x said...

remember, hippie culture was started by the silent generation, you boomers just latched on when you came of age, and turned it into the orgy of sex, drugs and rock'n roll that it became.

then you got older and didn't want any responsibilities so you aborted close to a third of us generation x-er's in the 70's. those of us who weren't aborted were fortunate enough to be ignored, or neglected. children were evil... you remember those movies: rosemary's baby, the excorcist, the omen and all the sequels. or they were just bad... think taxi driver. oh, they made more of those, but they bombed. nobody wanted to watch them, they were busy watching 3 men and a baby, parenthood, and playing with cabbage patch dolls. and then you got all guilt ridden about those abortions and started a culture war amongst yourselves that we are still grappling with.

but at least we had freedom. as soon as you were ready to have kids that you wanted, the child could not be sheltered enough. "but what about the children". helmet laws, v-chips, school uniforms, curfews and hovering parents.

but don't feel too bad, your elders sent tens of thousands of you to death in another generations war of lies, so far you've only sent a couple thousand (not including the brown people, of course) to death. and they were prime beneficiaries of all those anti-tax measures--hey they got to keep their social security and medicare, who knows if it will be around for you? (much less me and my younger siblings). oh wait, it will, and we'll be paying for it as soon as you are ready to use your generation hegemony to vote in higher taxes on our wages, while you cut them on your retirement packages. at least the country didn't fall for your little ss "privatization" scam where they government would borrow trillions of dollars to enforce a steady stream of new buyers of the stocks that would nicely enhance your portfolios... for a while anyway. that was a clever one.

At 2:05 PM, Anonymous unamerican activities said...

in the conversation here a couple of things are left out. one is that something in our 'peopleness' wishes for a kind of "doing something better" what with hindsight and everything. information moves much faster, much more accurately than every before - surely we are 'better' than our Shakespearean sisters and brothers, our Bertie Wooster cousins?
And bringing in History is important because history plays a huge part in our own journies of identity and dreams of a future. these are deep and important conversations, and the ghosts, both ancestral and historical surely would have words or guidance for us. even Nixon i imagine.

At 3:29 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Limbaugh's recurring theme is not that "things are going to hell." His recurring theme is the exact same one you expressed in your post, except Rush said it 15 years ago. And that is, that the baby boom generation had it all and mucked it all up, mainly out of selfishness and, generally, because we were spoiled. Nothing was demanded of us. We faced no epic monumental challenges like our parents did. Everything was about us enjoying ourselves. Us us us. Me me me. More more more. And it still seems to be the case.

But here's the deal about that. The previous generation had control of things until at least the late 80s. The world was the way it was when they passed it off to us. The question is: do we have the stuff it takes to fix it? We'll be running things for another 20 or so years.

At 5:33 PM, Blogger rickyragg said...

Oh, Bill,

Self-flagellation as a vehicle for Bush-bashing? That's certainly imaginative. No lashes for me, thanks.

But have you no shame?

When does tiresome become irksome?

At 11:54 AM, Blogger MAX Redline said...

Man, the vitriol here is pretty amazing; especially "gen x"s" little diatribe. This amounts to little more than affirmation of the fact that for most people, "historical perspective" extends no further back than the time of their birth.

So you have gen x'ers buying into Howdy Doody's wooden claims that we're all gonna die because of global warming. 30 years ago, the hullaballoo was all about global cooling, and glaciers were going to expand to the equator, and it was all our fault!

Just like global warming is all our fault.

Been there, seen it, and AlGore can't scare the bejeebers out of me.

As for the economics and how we're all being flushed down the toilet, yeah right. Buy a clue.

I've been hearing since I was a teenager that social security won't be around for me when I get older. You know what? I never depended on it in the first place.

I'm still living on roughly the same pay I made 20 years ago. Every time I get a cost-of-living pay increase, I bank it. As a result, I have about $1 million in diversified accounts.

In short, I don't depend on government "services", and I don't buy into the argument that this generation is lazy, stupid, or particularly reckless.

For all of the above, just Google up a photo of Ted Kennedy.

At 1:14 PM, Blogger Bill McDonald said...

Your comments are actually right in line with what I'm talking about. You're set so all is right with the world.
Have you looked at the unfunded financial exposures America has right now? Do you believe this generation will leave the United States in better shape fiscally than we found it?

At 3:30 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

But, really now...that part about "poor GHW Bush...!" And, Barbara Bush worried about her son"messing up"?!!! Huh??? I can honestly tell you that the only thing on Battle-axe Babs" brain is drinking her next vodka tonic while drunkenly repeating her favorite mantra, "the rich don't have enough money and the poor have too much!

And, along with Nixon & Reagan, there is GHWB, "Mr New World Order fascist" himself, the global snake salesman frontman we're all suffering from in the first place! He and the sell-out congress
controllers have made damn well sure that the world would be properly wired so that their globalistic greed may lives on forever thru their dynastic spawn--everyone's been bought off, I tell you!! I can assure you that it was primarily the "greatest generation" that sold this message and they sold it hard: "Greed is good". "Debt is the new American way". These are
"Trust busters" of the first degree--looting and dismantling the New deal, piece by piece as they
enjoy the benefits. The unions and Democrats sold out for their piece of the pie, too. The rest of us (except me?) have become debt-slaves, striving to buy the things we didn't need, while left
scrambling for the remaining jobs/benefits/representation in this brave new world of Nafta and beyond.

Yeah, the "greatest generation" doesn't impress me much at all--fucking alcoholics, all of em!!
We're only the "worst generation" because we are at the bottom of the food chain, but just wait--it gets even worse.... because, (and you can quote me!) "This train don't stop till it crashes"!

Yeah, those WWII palukas defeated Hitler, hurrah for them, God knows how much longer they'll be sucking all the mileage out of that one with their fucking sense of entitlement, I guess till they're all dead! God knows, I lived my entire life with my face shoved in their moral
superiority. Too bad all "our" generation got was the sucky Viet Nam war (with no bragging rights
OR Tee shirt)! (The best we could do was stop that war gainst their wills/hurrah for US!) We should all be so lucky to have such a no-brainer super-evil Hitler to fight. (no, Saddam doesn't count, because it was that "greatest generation" put him in power in the first place, dontyaknow!).

Let's not call them the "greatest generation" anymore. Let's call them "the luckiest generation"--able to live their loooong, post-war lives in the sweet spot of the New deal, complete with the assurance of pensions, social security, & civil liberties galore, while the
politicians they elected dismantled these benefits for rest of us! I say, fuck em, fuck em all to
their self righteous HELL!

And, if I have to hear about "Monica's blue dress" again I'll scream, otherwise I'll just tune into any AM right wing DJ (they're still talking about OJ's glove too!). But for now, the present, I
think we should put Monica behind us and focus on the Moment--and things like....why the fuck is Clinton sucking Lieberman's reelection DICK?!

In short, I don't agree at all with any of your thesis. The "greatest generation" were not great, just lucky...and they fucked things up for the rest of us, fursur!!

The only way to stay free is to reject the cheap debt and beenie baby's they have to offer.
There's the rich...and then there's the debtors...The rich are doing well because the world is filled with WHORES of all races, ages, creeds and religions that will sell their heritage for a bowl of
pottage, or a beany's that simple! It's just life after all, Life after the FALL!
For starters, let's get real!

I hope this helps!

Elisabeth Fursur

At 4:07 PM, Blogger Bill McDonald said...

Dear Elisabeth,
Thanks for writing in. Personally, I always felt luckier than my parents' generation. I loved rock and roll and partying and I'm not sure I'd want to trade those memories - such as they are - for growing up in the Great Depression and then fighting Hitler. Call me crazy, but I always enjoyed the fun stuff more than the bragging rights. I have toned it way down, but I continue to have a real zeal for relaxation.
But maybe that's just me.

At 9:13 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear Bill, (or should I say Mr. Relaxation!)

Thx for your response to my blog comments. I never, ever post anything on the web, so you broke my bleedin' cherry! Full disclosure---here's why I posted in the first place:

Last night I got an email from my long time buddy, Stan. He had send me your "worst generation" piece, but there was no subject, no quote marks, and no name. Because of this, I just assumed that my dear friend had written it himself. When I read it, I went ballistic--how was it possible that he could write this crap...was he possessed? I was sooo upset that I ran to the frig and grabbed my husband's Maximus Lagunitas and chugged down the whole damn thing (and I am not a drinker)! And then, I sat down and wrote my response back to him!

Thinking I had lost my friend to the dark side, I was so depressed that I took to my bed and stayed there till damn near 1:30 PM today (following the example of my beloved role models: John Lennon, Proust, & Rossini). By then, my friend had read my email and called with good news...NO!, he did not write it--it was just something he saw floating on the web that he thought would amuse me! Well! I was so happy to hear it that I jumped out of bed, brushed my teeth and returned to the land of the living! I went to my PC to look at Jack Bog, the only Portland blog I ever bother with, and there it was! It was YOU! And here I had a perfectly good rebuttal that was just a copy and paste away, so what the heck, why waste my brillant words on the wrong person...and the rest is history.
But wait...there's more! I sent a copy of your musing with my response to my friend Nemo and here's what he wrote me:
"Your reply was absolutely superb! You wacked the nail
right on the head. I hope you do send it to the idiot
that wrote this piece of weak-headed nonsense and give
him a blast of your intellect.
Your "fiend",

So there you have it--my friends think I'm a fucking genius (well, maybe a subgenius). Thank you Billy McD, thank you for giving me a reason to stay in bed all day AND making me look good to my friends--I owe you one big time, fur sur!
Elisabeth Fursur

At 10:10 PM, Anonymous Anne Dufay said...

Bill, don't let the blog world turn you too sour.

I was born in 1952. I remember when women, children and anyone whose skin color, or suspected heritage -- made them an object. A property. I moved, at the age of one year old, into a community which did not allow jews, or black people, to buy houses there. No, it was not Portland. Just somewhere like Portland.

That's the dirty underwear of the "great generation." That was the world they ruled -- that was the wonderful "husbanding" of our world back in the "good old days."

The crashing humiliation the Catholic Church is suffering from TODAY is not due to anything we boomers did, except, well, we told...


Yes, storming Normandy took courage. But I'm not sure, given the societal norms of the day, whether "confessing" having been raped or sexually abused as a child, domestically abused as a wife, spit on as a black person suspected of looking at a white woman (yes yes I know, spit on is good, in this context)

I'm not sure we weren't braver than anyone before us, or since.

I'm not sure we haven't tilted the world a little more than it's ever been tilted before.

What happens to our bit of sand is not everything. Empires come and go, but civilization moves forward. We did our part. Now we just need to guard the gains we made. We did tilt the world. We just gotta hold it.

At 12:09 AM, Blogger Bill McDonald said...

Wow, two comments in a row that kicked ass!
Elisabeth, the idea that you read what I wrote and immediately started drinking is priceless. As a comedy writer I live for moments like those.
Anne, there was one part that I either misunderstood or I'm sure you didn't mean, but another solid effort. And don't worry about me becoming sullen or whatever. I crack up just walking down the street. I've had to get off buses and walk because I was laughing too hard. My sense of humor is a beast. A beast that will not die.

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At 3:35 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Boomer sez:
Once again we hear the interminable WHINE of perpetual CHEESEWEENIE generation-x.
Its not too late for us to screw up the rest of your lives and I hope and pray we don't run out of time before we finish the job!


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